Breaking into the Boardroom

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
College of Law
3:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Breaking into the Boardroom: The Process and the Path

Presented in partnership 
DirectWomen logo

Please join us for a unique networking and information-sharing event, including a keynote delivered by Nebraska Law alumna Connie Collingsworth, Chief Business Operations Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Following her keynote, Collingsworth will moderate a panel that includes an executive chairman of the board, a board director, law firm administrative officer, and a search firm consultant. This program has been specifically designed for senior level women lawyers, but is open to all. The speaker and panelists will share their insights into how board members are chosen and how attorneys can best position themselves to serve on a corporate board.

The event will run from 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. 


Students may attend for free, while non-student participants will be charged a $50 registration fee. 

STUDENT & Faculty REGISTRATION  Professional REGISTRATION  New! and Now. Women's GroupS Registration 


3:00 p.m. Registration
3:15 p.m. Opening Remarks, Richard Moberly, Dean
3:30 p.m. Keynote: Connie Collingsworth, '82, Chief Business Operations Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
4:15 p.m. Break
4:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Mike Dunlap, former CEO and board chairman, Nelnet; Dean Kathleen Farrell, member of the board of directors, Nelnet and dean, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business; Thames Fulton, senior member of the RSR Partners' Board Recruiting Practice; Heidi Hornung-Scherr, chief administrative principal, Scudder Law Firm; Connie Collingswoth, moderator
5:30 p.m. Networking Reception


Please park in the student (C) parking lot South of the College of Law or the large student (C) parking lot North of the Dental College. You will receive a parking permit from an attendant at the entrance to the lot. Please hang this permit from the rear view mirror of your vehicle. 



Connie Collingsworth, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Connie Collingsworth, Chief Business Operations Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is responsible for leading a significant portion of the foundation’s operational needs, including Legal, Grants and Contracts Management, Information Technology and Security, Global Security, and overall business design and change management. In this role, she oversees much of the foundation’s daily operations, providing guidance and leading strategic planning for each division to drive operational efficiency and effectiveness in support of the foundation’s missions.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2002, she was a partner and member of the Executive Committee of Preston Gates & Ellis (now known as K&L Gates), where her practice focused on corporate securities law and private equity investments.

Connie has extensive nonprofit governance experience including serving as Co-Chair of the board of Women’s World Banking, Board Chair of Social Venture Partners, and Board Chair of the French American School of Puget Sound, of which she was also a founder. She currently serves on the board of directors of Premera Blue Cross and Banner Corporation.

Connie received an LL.M. in International Business Legal Studies from the University of Exeter, England, a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law, and a B.A., in English from Andrews University.

Mike Dunlap, Nelnet

Michael S. Dunlap, Executive Chairman of the Board, established the company that would become Nelnet with Stephen Butterfield in 1996. Mr. Dunlap previously served as Chairman and CEO of the company (co-CEO with current Vice Chairman Butterfield 2003-2007) from its inception.

Mr. Dunlap attained his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 1986, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 1988. He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association.

Mr. Dunlap serves in different leadership capacities for many organizations, including Union Bank & Trust, Union College, Vision 2015, and Capital Casualty Company, among others.

In addition to his role as Executive Chairman of the Board, Mr. Dunlap also serves as Executive Committee Chair.

Dr. Kathleen Farrell, UNL College of Business, Dean

Kathleen A. Farrell has served as a member of Nelnet’s Board of Directors since October 2007. Possessing admirable expertise in corporate finance, executive turnover, and executive compensation, Dr. Farrell is Dean of the College of Business and a Professor of Finance at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Dr. Farrell joined the finance faculty at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in the fall of 1993. Dr. Farrell received her Ph.D in finance from the University of Georgia, and a BBA in finance and accounting from Kent State University. Dr. Farrell's publications have appeared in several academic journals.

In 1996, Dr. Farrell received the Distinguished Teaching Award and in 2004 she received the University Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Business Administration. Dr. Farrell draws on her experience from KPMG Peat Marwick as a supervising senior where she was involved with audit engagements.

An active board member, Dr. Farrell serves on the Audit, Executive, and Compliance committees, in addition to her leadership role as the Chair of the Risk and Finance committee.

E. Thames Fulton, RSR Partners, Managing Director

Thames Fulton is a member of the firm’s Board of Directors Practice. He is a functional specialist working exclusively on board recruiting, corporate governance consulting, and best-in-class succession planning for both board members and CEOs. He serves as a board- and CEO-level advisor assisting clients with ascertaining and recruiting the optimum balance of skills and experience required to build robust and effective boards and corporate governance processes in support of successful businesses. 

Thames' search practice spans a wide variety of sectors including industrial manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, and financial services. His clients span the Fortune 500 and mid-cap and small-cap corporations, as well private family-owned enterprises. Thames has more than 14 years of experience executing board search and governance-based consulting engagements. Prior to joining RSR Partners, he led and built a successful national boutique board practice for a smaller firm. Before that, he worked for 11 years with two global recruiting firms, Heidrick & Struggles and Russell Reynolds Associates. For the entire course of his career in executive recruiting, Thames has focused on corporate governance consulting and non-executive director searches.

 His early career includes experience as a research analyst at Euromonitor International, a global market research firm, and as a project manager at Mitternight Boiler Works, a manufacturer of A.S.M.E. pressure vessels, distillation columns, and heat exchangers for the chemical and petroleum industries. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, implementing agro-forestry and natural resources management projects.

Thames holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Georgetown University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Thames, his wife Mary, and their four children live in Geneva, Illinois. 

Heidi Hornung-Scherr, Scudder Law Firm, P.C., L.L.O., Chief Administrative Principal

Heidi Hornung-Scherr serves as Chief Administrative Principal at Scudder Law Firm, P.C., L.L.O. Heidi represents publicly traded and privately held companies in the areas of corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, financings, securities, and corporate law.

Heidi's securities experience includes significant responsibility in representing issuers and underwriters on over 20 public stock offerings. Heidi currently provides governance advice to the boards of five public companies. She also has primary responsibility for the timely and efficient preparation and filing of securities reports for public companies and their insiders. Heidi has extensive Section 16 experience and serves as the clearing and filing point of contact for many of our public company insiders. Her mergers and acquisitions experience includes execution responsibility for over 200 transactions, ranging in size from several hundred thousand dollars to several billion dollars.

Heidi has presented at several conferences, including: the Capital Roundtable, the Northwestern University Transportation Center Business Advisory Committee, and the annual conference for the American Trucking Associations.

Heidi received her J.D. in 1995 from the University of Nebraska College of Law, where she served as a member of the Allen Moot Court Board and received honors for Best Oral Advocate and Best Forensic Performance. Heidi has successful appearances before the Nebraska Supreme Court. In 1992, she received her B.A. from Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. Heidi is a recipient of 40 under 40 by The Midlands Business Journal and is a Nebraska Bar Association Fellow.